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Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012

Capello rips F.A. on Terry


LONDON — Just like before the 2010 World Cup, a dispute revolving around John Terry is unsettling England's preparations for a major tournament.

News photo
Hand-to-hand combat: Tottenham's Benoit Assou-Ekotto (left) battles with Liverpool's Luis Suarez in Premier League action at Anfield on Monday. The match ended in a scoreless draw. AP

But this time, rather than acting as a unifier, Fabio Capello has been accused of exacerbating tensions ahead of the European Championship.

And as a result, the coach may have breached a lucrative contract worth about £6 million ($9.5 million) a year.

Capello's authority appears to have been undermined by his employers when Terry was fired as England captain on Friday by Football Association chairman David Bernstein.

While the decision was taken to prevent Terry from leading England at Euro 2012 while awaiting a criminal trial on a racism charge, Capello is annoyed his views were ignored.

Rather than keeping that strong disapproval within the F.A., though, Capello went public in a live interview with Italian television on Sunday night from London.

Stating from the outset that he "absolutely" did not agree with Bernstein's decision, Capello said players shouldn't be punished by the F.A. until the courts have dealt with any alleged crimes.

Directly contradicting his F.A. bosses in public has revived questions about Capello's future.

Gordon Taylor, the head of the players' union in England, told the BBC that the dispute "asks a question of the unity of the F.A."

British Sports Minister Hugh Robertson added: "If the consequence of (the decision) is the manager walks away, the consequence of that is John Terry walks away. I would regret both of those two things enormously, but so be it."

While Capello held onto his job despite England's second-round World Cup exit two years ago, there could now be grounds to dump the Italian before Euro 2012.

"It is being taken very seriously by the F.A. because it may be that Fabio Capello has breached his contract," former F.A. executive director David Davies told the BBC on Monday. "You have to ask what his motive is. You have to suspect he wants to prevent John Terry retiring as a player before Euro 2012, but there are wider issues.

"You could have what some of the media are calling a morality circus while England are trying to win the second major tournament in football."

A similar "morality circus" overshadowed England's preparations for the 2010 World Cup, Capello's first tournament with the team.

Back then, it was Capello who decided to strip Terry of the captaincy over allegations of an affair with teammate Wayne Bridge's ex-girlfriend. Bridge announced his international retirement as a result of the claims.

Capello deemed that Terry had to lose the captaincy because he was no longer a role model, but decided to reinstate him in March.

After the fresh controversy flared in October, Capello backed the Chelsea defender over allegations he racially abused Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand during a match, adopting the "innocent until proven guilty" stance.

The F.A. initially backed Capello but that changed on Wednesday after a court ruled that Terry would not stand trial until after Euro 2012.

"Fabio Capello, having been told by the F.A. in a private situation what they were going to do, has been a little bit unwise to come out as publicly as this," said Graham Taylor, England manager from 1990-93. "Whoever he makes as captain knows that he is not the manager's choice. That in itself doesn't help the dressing room."

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